Chamber #1

Issue Date: 
October 2002
Story Title: 
The Hollow Man - chapter one

Brian K. Vaughan (writer), Lee Ferguson (penciler), Norm Rapmund (inker), Jose Villarrubia (colorist), Dave Sharpe (letterer), Mike Raicht (editor), Joe Quesada (editor in chief), Bill Jemas (president)

Brief Description: 

Chamber and Cyclops are in Cleveland Ohio, rescuing a young mutant from two men with war-tech enhancements. After a brief battle, Chamber wants to take the boy with them, but the child is afraid of him calling him a monster due to the big gaping hole in his face and chest. Cyclops calms the child and tells him that he will be taken to school where he will never be alone again. Hearing this Chamber has his doubts. En route back to the school, Chamber tells the veteran X-Man that he thinks Xavier’s school is too secluded and that they’d need to teach the outside world more about mutants. Upon arrival, the two mutants are informed that six mutants students have been killed in an explosion at Empire State University. They were mutants from a peace group called Students of Tolerance. The only survivor was the human founder of the organization, Gigi Martin who was protected by her mutant boyfriend. Chamber urges Cyclops to let him enroll at ESU undercover as another mutant student, as he thinks the case would be buried by the local FBI agents. Arriving at the university one week later, he is welcomed with the usual anti-mutant prejudice, but makes fast friends with Amber, another mutant student. They talk until the Magnetic North and their rude leader Neutrino Annihilator show up, claiming to worship Magneto and to be the only mutant group on campus with bite. After heated words Annihilator and Chamber start a small fight exposing Chambers chest. They are broken up by Gigi Martin. The Magnetic North leave after more harsh words and Chamber questions Gigi. Claiming that they cannot talk out in the open, she offers a meeting the next day. Amber shows Chamber to his dorm room where he meets his roommate Walter, who is confined to a wheel chair. Walter is angry about having another mutant roommate and despises the fact that mutants are given full scholarship due to genetic make-up. Walter leaves slamming the door. At night, Chamber wakes up to the sound of a click noise. He sees a gun pointed him and three shots are fired.

Full Summary: 

Cleveland, Ohio. Nicholas Gleason is a physically obvious mutant with brown fur, pointy ears, and big red eyes. He is being cornered by two technologically enhanced men. He is crying and afraid. One of them tells Nicolas that they aren’t going to hurt him. The other one asks what he’s talking about and that of course they are going to hurt him. Calling his friend Frank a moron, the first man tells him that when he says “we’re not going to hurt you”, Frank is supposed to say “Yeah, were going to kill you.” Frank calls his friend over dramatic, but they are interrupted by an order to step away from the boy. Looking around, they wander who said that. They assume that it was probably one of the kids’ mutant friends, a telepath due to the rattling in their head. Frank tells whoever it is to leave before he gets his face blown off. Jonothon Starsmore, also known as Chamber, shows himself and tells them that it’s a little too late for that.

They ask who the hell he is and Chamber replies that they must be psychic and he was just about to ask them the same question. He calls Chamber a freak and tells him that they are 100 % human. Frank adds that they aren’t that human having non-organic war-tech grafted to their bodies. Chamber asks them why they would make themselves look like that. He tells Chamber to get justice, blaming mutants for their business failing. Frank fires a shot at Chamber who quickly dodges. Chamber mumbles a rhetorical question to himself “Is there anything they don’t blame on us?” They tell more about their weapon enhancements and blaming mutants when Chamber realizes they are only talking long enough to re-charge their weapons. Chamber quickly acts and fires a powerful bio-kinetic energy blast at Frank. Frank’s partner is angry and fires a micro-inhibitor dart at Chamber, nullifying his powers long enough for him to re-charge. He continues his accusations about the filthy mutant creatures destroying the country and economy. Chamber quickly silences him by simply smashing a lamp against his head.

Chamber confronts the child and tells him that he will be okay. Petrified at Chamber’s appearance, the kid screams and tells Chamber to get away, calling him a monster. It is a reaction Jono has grown used to, since on the day his mutant power first manifested the bio-kinetic energy blasts tore a massive hole in his chest and the lower part of his face. Cyclops arrives, a little late, and asks Chamber if he is okay. Chamber tells him that he handled the “cyber bigots” but Cyclops had better see to the child. Cyclops squats down to Nicolas’s level and tells him that is okay, that they are the good guys. That he read about what happened to his parents and that they will take him to a school where he will be safe and that he will never be alone again. As Chamber hears this he stares into a broken mirror with saddened disbelief.

On the Blackbird en route to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, Chamber tells Cyclops, calling him Mr. Summers, that the kid finally has fallen asleep. Cyclops answers that Chamber is not a Generation X kid anymore he can call simply call him Scott. He then tells Chamber that this is exactly why he asked him to go on the mission to see if Chamber was comfortable in his new role as an X-Man. A little bit surprised, Chamber tells him that he supposes he is fine, and it appears that the others are not too disgusted with the crater he had accidentally put in himself. Cyclops tells him that he is not Xavier, so he can’t mindread, and if he has any problem with the X-Men then he should be vocal about it. That is when Chamber tells him the truth, that’s it’s not the X-Men that is bothering him but the actual school. He tells Scott that he appreciates what they are doing for the children but is concerned about them after they leave the school. Scott reminds him that he was a student once and that his education prepared him for what came next. Jonothon replies that while he did become a better soldier, he can’t imagine that every graduate of the school wants to dress in black leather and fight evil doers. That some of them probably want to become a banker or a ballerina, basically having a normal life. Scott tells him that they do prepare the students for the real world, but Chamber asks if he ever thought about being out in the world teaching humans about them?

Arriving at Xavier’s School, they are approached by Molly, a green skinned student with tentacles, who alerts Cyclops that something has happened and the X-Men are looking for him. Scott is carrying sleeping Nicolas off the Blackbird and tells Chamber that they will finish their conversation later. When Jonothon asks Molly what has happened she looks away nervously. He re-assures her that she can actually look at his face and he wants to know what happened. Molly tells she guesses that some mutant students were murdered. Chamber is shocked and wonders who of the students were killed, but Molly explains that it wasn’t at Xavier’s School but at Empire State University.

In the briefing room, Cyclops tells Chamber about the six openly mutant college freshmen were killed in an explosion, showing him holographic re-creations based on available Landsat photos. He continues that none of the usual suspects have claimed responsibility and the authorities have no real lead. Shocked Jonothon asks Cyclops about the students not hiding the fact that they were mutants. Cyclops tells Jonothon that they not only didn’t hide their being mutants but it was the reason why they were given a full scholarship. He explains that Empire State University has always been one of the more progressive colleges in the country and this was an effort by them to start making a more genetically diverse campus. Nineteen mutants were brave enough to accept the scholarship and the six who died were part of a co-species organization called Students for Tolerance. Their office was bombed leaving only survivor, human Gigi Martin who was saved by her mutant boyfriend using his body as a shield.

Seeing the beautiful face of Gigi on the holographic screen, Chamber demands that Cyclops let him investigate this case. Cyclops refuses the offer telling Chamber that he was only told this because it is necessary to stay informed, adding that the FBI is already on the scene and the case will be handled as a hate crime. Chamber is angry and says that Cyclops has to know that this case will be swept under the rug. Until a few months ago the Feds were still contemplating all mutants. Cyclops sarcastically asks what he is to do, send Jonothon undercover? They both know that he is visually too obvious a mutant. However Chamber answers that’s exactly why Cyclops could enroll him as Jonothon Starsmore, mutant student. Then he could analyze the situation from an inside view and eventually discover the person responsible. He begs Cyclops to let him do this mission, stating that he didn’t join the X-Men to be a teachers assistant. He says if they just stand by, then there is the possibility of future mutant killings at the university.

(one week later)

Empire State University. Jonothon Starsmore is walking on campus escorted by two armed bodyguards. Jonothon kindly excuses them, telling them that he will be okay from there. They ask him if he really thought he would have National Guardsmen following him to every class, and now that all the cameras are gone they are as well. As they leave Jonothon is hit with a tomato and hears the someone scream “Go Home, Homo Inferior”. A voice comes from behind him saying “the problem we all live with” Not understanding, Jono looks behind him seeing a bald girl with green skin and red eyes. She tells him that “The Problem We All Live With” is a Norman Rockwell painting that she often thinks of when seeing a new mutant on campus. Chamber replies that Norman Rockwell was a “bloody hack”. Realizing that he is British she tells him that British kids hate everything. Jonothon replies not everything, just everything American, then introduces himself as Jonothon Starsmore, called Jono by his mates. Amber tells him that she really doesn’t have any mates, but Jono replies that she’s got one now.

Suddenly they hear the words “Hey Mutie” behind them. Angered Jono and asks “What did you call me?” He turns to find five physically obvious mutants staring at him. Two girls, one with red skin and demonic wings, and three guys, two of them rather short with green skin, and a huge built guy, wearing a Magneto T-shirt who speaks up. He tells Jono to relax and that they have appropriated the word mutie from the humans using as a term of affection. When Jono asks just who the guy is he replies that his gene trash parents called him Kirk but that his mutant name is Neutrino Annihilator. He claims to be leader of the Magnetic North, the only mutant organization on Campus with a real bite. When Jono hears this he asks if they actually do worship Magneto. Kirk replies that Magneto was a martyr to their cause, who wasn’t afraid to stand to oppressors and by this showing them that they will not be kept down. Jono calls Kirk mad and tells him Magneto was a mass murderer and a lunatic. Kirk then asks if Jono is one of those Uncle Tom Mutants, who try hard to fit in with the norm of society. Amber tries to stop Kirk from commenting more but Kirk tells her to back off calling her a gene traitor. He asks why the Jono’s hiding behind all that wrapping anyway and that it’s time to let his freak flag fly. Kirk slashes Jono’s wrapping exposing his crater in his chest and face that is replaced by bio-kinetic energy.

Kirk rudely asks what happened to Jono’s face. He answers that is the same question Kirk will be asked tomorrow slugging him across the jaw. Poking fun at Kirk’s mutant name Jono warns him that if he ever lays a finger on him that his mutant name will be Rotting Corpse. Angry, Kirk is about to challenge him when they are broken up by Gigi Martin, re-informing them about the campus rules that use of mutant powers is cause for getting all mutants expelled. Patronizing her Kirk asks Gigi if she is here to sign another one of her peace treaties calling her a wannabe. Gigi tells Kirk to leave Jono alone as he doesn’t want to be part of their stupid club. Kirk's reply is cruel telling her she’s right, and maybe Jono wants to join The Cowards of Tolerance to get blown up just like her friends did. As the group walks away Kirk warns Jono that bad things happen to mutant students who aren’t with the North.

Jono apologizes to Gigi for the inappropriate behavior. He tells her that he is a journalism major who wants to ask her a few questions. Gig tells him that they can’t talk there, that you never know who is listening. A few feet away stands angry black male student starring at them. Jono tells Gigi that she is right. She is impressed that he communicates telepathically, telling him that it’s nice to have a voice inside her head again. Her old boyfriend, now deceased, used to communicated the exact same way. Gigi invites Jono to come talk to her tomorrow in her office on the third floor of the student center. Until then she tells him not to let anyone scare him at ESU, while they are not perfect, they are all about progress. Waving goodbye Gigi tells Amber that she will see her tomorrow in their Life Drawing class. Amber warns him not to get his hopes up that humans don’t date mutants, but when they do, (referring to Gigi) they only date really cute ones to make their parents mad. When Jono asks Amber why she doesn’t like Gigi, Amber replies that she is fine though a little naive. She offers to show Jono his room asking where it is. He tells her Brittany Hall. Amber tells him that that is really friendly building and she is sure that he will love it there.

After knocking on his future bedroom door, a blonde male in a wheel chair opens, looking very annoyed. He asks him just what the hell he wants. Jono asks if he is Walter, and introduces himself as his new roommate. Walter is even more annoyed as he says that housing must hate him to stick him with another mutant. He then tells Jono that he has nothing really against mutants just the what the University is doing for them. Jono asks if he’s referring to them getting an education. Walter tells him that’s not the problem, but he is upset about the special treatment they get for their genetic make-up. He had to earn his way into the college, as he thinks that they should too. Walter says he doesn’t care about their unique abilities and that he can name the atomic weight of any element off the top of his head. Walter asks what his mutant powers is with a sarcastic comment about besides mumbling stuff telepathically and modeling turtle necks. Continuing his verbal attack Walter tells him that no college gave him a scholarship because of his physical limitations and that he’s been playing “sit and spin” all of his life. Jono tells Walter that he is really sorry about it, but comparing mutant genetics to being in a wheel chair is like comparing apples to snowshoes.

Jono then tells him that while the government was widening the doors on buses for humans they were creating sentinels to destroy mutants. Walter tells him that was ancient history, and that they are famous now. He points to the television which has X-Force on the screen. Jono tells him that a handful of mutants on the television has nothing to do with the struggle being over. Walter doesn’t want to have “the struggle” conversation again and that his last roommate whined about the struggle until the day he... Walter leaves, slamming the door, telling Jono that he’s going to the library for the night and that Jono needs to pick up some air freshener before he returns, claiming he smells like a sulfur mine.

That night, Jono is awakened by a click noise. He rises up from his bed thinking it’s Walter and tells Walter that he thinks they got off on the wrong foot. As he sits up he has a gun pointed at him. Before he can react three shots are fired.

Characters Involved: 

Chamber, Cyclops (both X-Men)

Molly, a student at Xavier’s School

Nicholas Gleason, young mutant

Amber, mutant student attending Empire State University

Gigi Martin, founder of Students for Tolerance

Walter, Chamber’s dorm room-mate

Neutrino Annihilator / Kirk and four unnamed mutants (all Magnetic North)

Dozens of unnamed students

unnamed armed guards

Frank and his friend, cyborgs

in video monitors / television screens:

Gigi Martin and six unnamed mutants (all members of Students for Tolerance)

Anarchist, Battering Ram, Gin Genie, La Nuit, Plazm, U-Go Girl, Zeitgeist (all X-Force)

Story Notes: 

The issue is set between Uncanny X-Men #409 and 410.

In the issue Chamber’s name is wrongly spelled Jonothan, while all prior spelling have it as Jonothon.

Chamber was a member of Generation X from issues #1-75. In the final issue he received a letter inviting him to become an X-Man, though he only joined after several weeks during which he had an affair with pop singer Sugar Kane. (Uncanny X-Men #395-398)

Magneto died in New X-Men #115-166 when Genosha was assaulted by a new breed of Sentinels.

The image of X-Force on Walter’s television is the cover from X-Force #116.

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